Sunday, July 5, 2009

Consumer Christianity

Instead of the regular Sunday Mind Dump I thought I'd post a follow up to this mornings message:

Consumerism in the business world is based upon customer satisfaction. The product or the service must be tailored to the wants, desires, and needs of the customer. In this paradigm the customer rules, because if there is no customer, there is no profit, and therefore, no business. Hence the philosophy, “The customer is always right.”

This very mentality has conditioned the American public to expect the same treatment and consideration in churches. Yet, in Biblical Christianity it is exactly the opposite – God rules, not the parishioner. God's agenda is not customer satisfaction, keeping everyone happy, or responding to pubic opinion polls. He is not looking for customers, He’s looking for disciples.

A couple of years ago a lady asked us, “Have you even bothered to poll the congregation to ask them what ‘they’ want?” In this painful incident she was demanding that we bend our church in a certain direction, (to meet her demands, yes demands), but we could not. The Bible has already outlined the mission of the church and the cost of discipleship, and is therefore ‘fixed.’ It makes no attempt to make itself popular. In fact, it risks its popularity by its severity. God is not intimidated when people threaten to ‘take their business elsewhere’ - and church leaders would do well to follow suit. Otherwise, they will end up with a church full of fickle saints who can never be satisfied and will change loyalties at the drop of a hat.

Even today, a card was turned in by a first-time guest who indicated the teaching was too hard. Among other things, this couple said they "need a church" that is "more loving and accepting" than we are. Say what? Did they miss the fact that John Chapter 6 are the words of Jesus Himself? Do we just take that part of the Bible and throw it out, or ignore it altogether? Which is more important, being faithful to God by delivering the 'whole counsel' of His Word, or offering selected softer portions of the Word that might be more palatable for people who are used to a diet of milk and possess a caviar appetite? With that note it became apparent to me that the 'consumer mentality' is still alive and well.

In contrast, eight others turned in cards indicating they were making a commitment in their spiritual journey; four committed to Christ, three offered to volunteer/serve in a specific area, and one wanted to find a small group to join. Other first time guests turned in cards indicating they wanted to find out more about PCC! I met a new couple in the atrium who said they will be back. About a dozen people spoke to me about how good the Word was today. One lady even said, "Thank you pastor for speaking to us like this... it's so important that people be 'all in.'"

People who have a heart that longs for God get it. The others don't.

BTW, I don't think you can find a more loving & accepting church in the entire area than Pace Community Church! It would be a mistake for that couple to judge eleven years of ministry, and some 450 people in our church family, by one church service; it completely overlooks the love, service, and self-sacrifice that exists among the PCC family as our members minister 'love and acceptance' to one another on a consistent basis. It also overlooks the 'balance' that I offer in my teaching schedule. The Bible says, "Behold the goodness AND the SEVERITY of God" (Romans 11:22), and that is a double edged sword that I strive to present in my teaching. I think it produces better disciples. And for the record, the Bible is the same way no matter what church a person attends. You can change churches, but when you get over there and open your Bible you will find it reads the same way over there as it does here. Just because you change churches doesn't mean that God is going to change His Word.

When Biblical teaching is adhered to, in an unadulterated form, then holiness and fruitfulness will follow. God’s blessings will be apparent. People will be saved, they will grow into disciples, and become servants who sacrifice themselves for the cause of Christ.

In our maturity process we come to realize that the Christian life is more about what God expects from us, rather than what we can get from Him.

What a great church we have! It is full of disciples and we've never had to compromise the gospel to achieve it.

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